Meet the Team
Brian Horner
KIC Founder
Mr. Horner has taught in District 203 in Naperville, Illinois for his entire career. He has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a double master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and differentiated instruction. He currently teaches in the district’s Project Idea Plus program for gifted students. Mr. Horner is a National Board Certified teacher, a multiple nominee for the “Disney Teaching Award”, a multiple nominee and finalist for the Golden Apple Award, winner of the “Office Max Teacher Innovator Award”, winner of the district’s “Mission Maker Award”, winner of “Those Who Excel” program, and has been recognized multiple times at the yearly district’s “Excellence in Education” banquet where the top graduating seniors can invite one teacher who has had the greatest impact on their education since kindergarten. In addition, he has spoken at national conferences and universities on the development of student thinking, the Habits of Mind, and giftedness. Mr. Horner is recognized as an international ambassador for the Habits of Mind by the Institute for the Habits of Mind and will be giving multiple presentations at the International Habits of Mind Conference in April of 2024 in Vista, California.

Mr. Horner loves hanging out with his family and friends, while eating Spaghettios and sushi whenever he gets the chance.

Julia Kime
Ever since she was in elementary school herself, Mrs. Kime has wanted to be a teacher. She feels so lucky to teach in District 203. She has taught both 1st and 2nd grade at Highlands for 8 years. Her favorite part of teaching is seeing students have “a-ha!” moments and challenging students to dive deep and do their best. She also loves math puzzles and read alouds!

Tony Kresl
Mr. Kresl is a 16-year teaching veteran who has taught second, third, fourth grades, and is currently the librarian at Highlands Elementary School. He is always looking to challenge himself as well as his students. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in elementary education. He attended graduate school at Benedictine University and matriculated with a Master’s degree in education and literacy. He’s continued his education by becoming a National Board Certified Teacher. He’s been nominated for the Those Who Excel Award in District 203 twice and was also the OfficeMax District 203 Teacher of the Year in 2009.

When he’s not teaching, you can find him playing the trombone. He loves to take walks with his dog, Sousa, and cook with his wife. He also plays cribbage and can be found reading at any time of the day. An avid sports fan, Mr. Kresl cheers for his two favorite orange and blue teams: Illinois and the Bears! Feel free to remind him how badly both teams are competing this year.

Kyle Wood
Mr. Wood studied art at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with Emphasis in Art Education. Upon acceptance to SAIC, Mr. Wood was awarded the Smith Merit Recognition Scholarship based on the strength of his portfolio. His paintings have been displayed in various galleries, alternative venues and private collections. Since graduating from SAIC in 2007, Mr. Wood has worked as an elementary art teacher. He taught for three years in Plainfield District 202 where he received a CAPE Award for Educator of the Year at Liberty Elementary during the 2008-2009 school year. In June 2010, Mr. Wood earned a Master’s Degree in Education concentrating in Teaching with Technology through Kaplan University. He has been super jazzed to start his first year teaching art and leading the Artrageous Club at Highlands.

When not teaching or making art, Mr. Wood enjoys spending his time with his wife, Amanda, and his dog Geoffrey (an entirely too energetic beagle/basset mix sometimes referred to as a “bagel”), and updating his new home, a Chicago style bungalow near the Brookfield Zoo.

Elida Vandenbergh
Mrs. Vandenbergh has been a teacher in District 203 for the past decade. She has split the last ten years evenly teaching both 1st and 3rd grades. She graduated from the University of Illinois and received her masters degree from National Louis University. She is a National Board Certified teacher, just achieving this prestigious honor this year!

Mrs. Vandenbergh has coached the Naperville Dance team for the past nine years. She just got married within the last year and has two beautiful dogs, Chloe and Anna Belle. Mrs. V loves to ski, is a great cook (ask anyone who has tried her dishes!) and due to her exceptional organizational skills and habits, makes her husband separate his dirty laundry into 4 different baskets accordingly to distinct shades of color.

Bridget Kelly
Summer 2024 is going to be exciting! Ms. Kelly graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Benedictine University in 2015. Starting her career at Meadow Glens, Ms. Kelly was a special education teacher for 3 years prior to currently teaching 2nd grade. Ms. Kelly has been nominated for Those Who Excel program three times. Ms. Kelly loves to learn with her students and share her passion for reading! Outside of the classroom, Ms. Kelly enjoys spending time with family and friends, swimming, and eating ice cream!

Ally Gargano
Miss Gargano is ecstatic to join the KIC team this summer! Miss Gargano graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa in 2016. She completed both her student teaching and a long-term substitute position at Meadow Glens Elementary in fifth grade, and is now currently a fourth grade teacher at Prairie Elementary in Naperville District 203. In her spare time, Miss Gargano enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, singing, and watching every musical known to man! And, if you are asking yourself the question, “Is this the same person I saw in a video singing with Adele last summer?” – the answer is yes!

Kelly Quinn
Ms. Quinn has been an elementary school teacher since 2002.  For the past 13 years, she has taught First Grade at Beebe Elementary in Naperville District 203,  but also has experience teaching Kindergarten, Second and Third Grade.  She received her teaching degree from Aurora University.  In 2019, she was a nominee for the “Those Who Excel” program’s Teacher of the Year.  Ms. Quinn has a passion for sharing and discussing literature with her students, facilitating learning of topics that interest them, and helping students find create ways to demonstrate their understanding.
When she’s not teaching, Ms. Quinn enjoys spending time with her family (especially beating Mr. Quinn and her daughters at Foosball), crafting, reading, and playing piano.

Stephanie Birch
Mrs. Birch graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She started her teaching career in Lyons School District 103 teaching first grade. She came to District 203 in 2003 and taught both first and second grade. While teaching second grade Mrs. Birch was part of many curriculum writing teams. Within that time she received a Masters Degree in Reading from Benedictine University.

Currently Mrs. Birch holds the position of Learning Support Coach. This position allows her to work with teachers in all grade levels incorporating best practice instruction to support student learning. As part of this position, Mrs. Birch also works with the school administration to develop and facilitate professional learning taking place on teacher institute days. To recognize her efforts, Mrs. Birch was nominated for the “Those Who Excel” award in 2011. To continue her own professional learning, Mrs. Birch just attained a Master of Arts Degree in Differentiated Instruction from Concordia University Chicago.

Mrs. Birch and her husband have three cool kids that range in age from 7 to 13. She spends much of her time driving her kids from activity to another. The Birch family includes a one year old golden retriever name Lucky who should have been named Chewy or Shredder. In Mrs. Birch’s free time she enjoys watching her kids play sports, shopping, working in the yard, reading and spending time with friends and family. If there is one thing Mrs. Birch cannot live without, it is chocolate. She tells her kids it is her Mommy Survival Food.

Kara Gallagher
Mrs. Gallagher graduated from Eastern Illinois University, a long time ago, with a dual degree in special education and elementary education. She attended North Central College for graduate school and received her Master’s degree in Leadership and Administration. Mrs. Gallagher has been a Learning Behavior Specialist at Highlands School for the past 12 years. During this time she has created a number of specialized programs to meet the unique learning needs of the students she works with. Mrs. Gallagher was nominated for a “Those Who Excel” award in 2012 for Highlands School.
Mrs. Gallagher has two amazing children (Riley and Brendan) who have an unlimited amount of energy. In her spare time, Mrs. Gallagher enjoys reading, long distance running (she recently ran her 6th marathon) and singing off-key. Since recently joining CrossFit, Mrs. Gallagher can now do up to 200 burpees without throwing up.

Jenna Noesen
Ms. Noesen is so excited for a fun filled summer with the KIC program!  Ms. Noesen graduated from Augustana College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.  She is new to District 203 and has served at Meadow Glens in a variety of different roles and grade levels. During distance learning, Ms. Noesen taught science to all grade levels at Meadow Glens, assisted in multiple classrooms throughout the school year, and taught 4th grade for part of the school year. The design of this school year gave Ms. Noesen the opportunity to think outside the box to create meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for students as well as engage with curriculum and content at every grade level. She loves to bring energy and excitement to everything she teaches, and she cannot wait to work with your child!  In her free time, Ms. Noesen loves to travel, shop, and watch Netflix.

Matt Vande Guchte
Mr. Vande Guchte has been teaching for 10 years and has taught 5th, 3rd, and 2nd grade over that time span.  He is currently teaching 3rd grade at Beebe Elementary in Naperville School District 203.  He graduated from Hope College where he earned his initial teaching degree.  He also received a master’s in educational technology from Concordia University Chicago.  Mr. Vande Guchte enjoys teaching all subjects, but also loves science and incorporating technology or robotics into his lessons when possible.  At Beebe he leads the Robotics Club for 2nd and 3rd graders and also coaches the First Lego League Team.
When not teaching he enjoys spending as much time as he can with his kids, Hailey and Travis. Mr. V is also a huge sports fan.  He plays in basketball and softball leagues around the area when he can.  His favorite teams to watch are the Cubs, the Detroit Lions (even if it’s embarrassing to admit), Michigan, and Duke.  Some other hobbies include reading, taking walks, and being known as a crazy plant dude for all the plants he has!

Shannon Carrico
Miss Carrico is thrilled to join the KIC team this Summer! Miss Carrico graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She received a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from North Central College in 2021.

Currently, Miss Carrico works as a 5th grade teacher at Mill Street Elementary School where she has loved getting to know students and families for the past 7 years.

Miss Carrico’s favorite part of teaching is laughing with and challenging her students to grow both in and outside of the classroom.

When she is not in school, Miss Carrico enjoys being anywhere near Lake Michigan, reading, trying all of Chicago’s restaurants, and watching the Chicago Cubs. Miss Carrico LOVES to travel. Her favorite trip was last Summer when she was able to go on a safari in South Africa. If you ask her about it, she will be sure to show a million pictures of her newfound favorite animal, a giraffe!

Lauren Michels
Ms. Michels is currently the Math Intervention Specialist at River Woods Elementary in Naperville District 203. This upcoming school year will be her eleventh year in D203 and twelfth year in education. She previously taught 6th grade in Plainfield as well as 4th grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten at Kingsley Elementary in D203. In addition to her collaboration with students, staff and families at the school level, Ms. Michels also collaborates with stakeholders across the District through her involvement in D203 committees including Diversity Advisory, Equity, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.
She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Go Illini! She graduated with highest honors in May 2013 with a B.S. in Elementary Education and again in May 2019 with a M.Ed. in Education Policy Organization and Leadership and a concentration in Global Studies in Education. When not teaching or tutoring in Naperville, Ms. Michels enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, dancing and spending time with my family and friends. She resides in Oak Park, Illinois, but her travel destinations, mostly connected to studying education around the world, include Perú, Japan, Indonesia, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, Italy and Singapore.

Jen Maita
Mrs. Maita has been a classroom teacher for 19 years. She currently teaches third grade in District 203 at Elmwood Elementary School. Prior to Elmwood, Mrs. Maita taught first grade in LaGrange, school district #107. Mrs. Maita graduated from Arizona State University with a BA in Communications and then received her MA in Elementary Education from St. Xavier University.

Mrs. Maita and her husband have three boys ages 16, 14, and 8. She spends most of her time watching her boys play baseball, football, and basketball. In her free time she loves to workout at F45 and travel. Her favorite destination has been Oahu!

Nicholas Castelluccio
Mr. Castelluccio began his teaching career at Meadow Glens Elementary in the fall of 2022 after graduating from Indiana State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Special Education. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a President’s Scholar. During his time at ISU, he co-founded Alpha Delta Kappa Collegiate Club, a chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, a co-ed service fraternity for future educators. At Meadow Glens, Mr. C, is currently a Permanent Building Substitute where he has gained invaluable experience working with all grade levels along with the multi needs program. One fun fact about him is that he’s a triplet!

Lainey Kauper
Ms. Kauper is thrilled to be joining the KIC community this summer! She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from North Central College in Naperville. Ms. Kauper gained valuable teaching experiences including working abroad in a Belizean school during the summer of 2019. After college, she was a kindergarten teacher through the Diocese of Joliet at All Saints Catholic Academy. Ms. Kauper recently joined the Meadow Glens community teaching a variety of subjects at all grade levels. Outside of school, Ms. Kauper enjoys doing crafts, biking, and going on runs with her dogs, Murphy and Bailey. Her dogs are gentle giants who love food almost as much as she does.

Allison Fabbri
Ms. Fabbri could not be more excited to return to the KIC team this summer! She graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she majored in Elementary Education. Currently, she is pursuing a masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from U of I. Go Illini! Ms. Fabbri has taught both first and fourth grade at Highlands Elementary school in District 203 and loves to watch her students grow and achieve!

Ms. Fabbri’s life passions are cooking, shopping, and crafting. In her free time she also enjoys spending time with her dog, Louie, who is only ten pounds but thinks he is as tough as a German Shepherd!

Anna_Paige 2022
Anna Paige

Ms. Paige graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in elementary education. She student taught in 5th grade at Kingsley Elementary and is currently working on her Master’s degree in reading from the University of St. Francis. She has been teaching for 9 years and currently teaches 5th grade at Washington Jr High (where she went to school herself!). She is the Battle of the Books sponsor and is the founder of newly created Minecraft club at Washington.

Ms. Paige spends her free time hanging out with her husband and two (large) dogs, Holly and Cali and they recently welcomed a new baby into this world!  Reading is her passion which is why her classroom has a Harry Potter theme! She enjoys listening to authors talk about their books and attends many book signings! She also enjoys video games and immersing herself in various fantasy cultures.

Melissa Dexl
Melissa Dexl

Ms. Dexl has been a Naperville teacher in District 203 for the last 4 years teaching 4th and 5th graders in the District’s gifted Project Idea Plus program at Meadow Glens. Prior to teaching in Naperville, Mrs. Dexl taught 4th grade gifted in Plainfield and 8th grade Communication Arts in Yorkville. Mrs. Dexl has also spent time abroad in England’s first grade classrooms.

She graduated from Elmhurst College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and received her master’s degree from American College of Education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in differentiation and her second master’s in Reading Specialist at Olivet University. In addition, Mrs Dexl has her endorsements in Spanish, Reading, Language Arts and Gifted Education.

Mrs. Dexl has three energetic little boys (Jameson, Donovan & CIllian) and German Shepherd named Bonzo. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.  Mrs. Dexl is accident prone and has broken 6 bones!

Colleen Wielgat
Colleen Wielgat
Mrs. Wielgat couldn’t be happier teaching first grade at Ranch View Elementary School in Naperville. Her excitement for working with her young firsties is what inspired her to join the KIC team. Mrs. Wielgat is currently a proud Ranch View Ranger but has a very special place in her heart for the Highland Whales. At Highlands, she was a student teacher, a kindergarten classroom assistant, as well as a special education assistant. While receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from North Central College, Mrs. Wielgat taught science inquiry classes to 4th and 5th graders from many local elementary schools. Mrs. Wielgat has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. She is an Italian food eating, energetic, loud laughing, passionate, Pinterest pinning, dog loving, shopaholic that loves going on long runs and spending time with family and friends.